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Americans Say Addiction Should Be Handled By Medical Professionals, Not Law Enforcement, New Survey Shows


December 1995

In a new public opinion survey conducted by the National Treatment Consortium, Inc. (NTC), 88% of respondents said that drug and alcohol addiction require medical treatment (National Treatment Consortium, Inc., The Future of Addiction Treatment, 1995).

Most of those surveyed said addiction is a medical or a social problem (41%, 52%), and only 5% said addiction is a law enforcement problem.

Overwhelmingly, most respondents think drug addiction in the U.S. will increase in the next ten years (75%). 20% said it would decrease, 2% said it would stay the same, and 2% were unsure.

41% said alcoholism is a medical illness, and 27% said drug addiction is. 89% said that current treatment programs such as self-help groups, medical treatment, and aid from religious organizations are at least somewhat effective in helping those addicted to drugs or alcohol.

When asked about the goals of treatment, more people said that improved personal and family relationships should be the goal (87%), over abstinence (75%), improved working performance (74%), and reduction of crime (74%).

Most of those surveyed (87%) said that addiction treatment should be part of health care reform. 63% said the government should spend more on treatment programs. In order to pay for increased funding, the government should increase taxes on alcohol and cigarettes (66%) or collect the cost from the person in treatment (74%).

The survey found that people with personal experience with addiction (either they have been addicted or knew a friend or a family member who was addicted) were more likely to say that the federal government should grant more funding to addiction treatment. They were also more likely to say that addiction is a medical problem, not a law enforcement problem.

The White Paper also includes the results of a survey of the opinions of medical personnel, employers, and insurance managers. A number of essays are included in the paper about the medical and scientific advances being made in the field of substance abuse treatment.

NTC surveyed 1,249 people by phone in July 1994. NTC is a membership organization that studies issues surrounding the delivery, purchase, and payment of alcohol and drug treatment.

[To obtain a copy of this White Paper, contact NTC at P.O. Box 1294, Washington, DC 20013, 202-434-4780. The report costs $14.95 plus $5.00 shipping and handling.]